How SAP and project44 are Building Open Networks to Drive Supply Chain Agility

  2020 11 05 SAP FW

Supply chain priorities have shifted over the last year to focus on agility, to accelerate initiatives to gain in-depth and real-time data across their ecosystem, and to find out how this approach can lead to better business decisions. At the core of data and business intelligence is the supply chain’s transportation network. 

project44 and SAP share a similar network-based philosophy, which is a key reason why the two joined forces in 2019 to enable B2B connectivity and collaboration. Recent enhancements to native integration extend the solution, delivering on a global multimodal strategy.

In a recent FreightWaves fireside chat, Propelling Global Supply Chains into the Future with Open Networks, project44 Founder and CEO Jett McCandless sat down with SAP SVP and Head of Digital Supply Chain Business Networks Paige Cox to discuss why open networks are essential for an end-to-end solution and how they will propel supply chains into the future.

Read a few highlights from the session below, and watch the recording for the full conversation. 

Transportation and Logistics Is no Longer a Commodity

The transportation and logistics space has evolved rapidly over the last several years, but this year has brought more unexpected changes and challenges. 

Working and consulting in logistics, I saw a real problem of information asymmetry. There are so many parties involved in the ecosystem, and everyone had different information,” says McCandless. This connectivity and access to data has been a problem in logistics for years, but it’s really been exposed over the last year. We’re seeing it become a concern at a higher level at organizations.” 

As supply chains are brought to the center of business continuity and agility for many companies, transportation and logistics are moving from behind the scenes to become a key focus for the C-suite.

Different disruptions of the world — whether it’s COVID-19, Brexit, trade wars, or tariffs — are putting supply chain and logistics into a different agenda. Every CEO at every company is looking at resilience and agility,” says Cox. The supply chain is really at its breaking point, and logistics is the piece that interconnects the supply chain.”

McCandless adds that the evolution is going beyond recent disruptions because the Delivery Economy — the demand for faster, less expensive, and transparent delivery — is an added factor that’s only picking up steam. 

In the past, supply chains were focused more on costs, but now agility and resilience are the top priorities in order to meet all these needs. Both speakers emphasized how an organization cannot make these improvements on their own.

We need to get that data and visibility to steer our entire supply chain. And not just my own supply chain, not anymore. I cannot do it alone,” says Cox. Companies are realizing that they need to go beyond their four walls. That they not only need the data, but they need the network to orchestrate that agility.”

Building Agility with Connectivity 

To build this agility, McCandless and Cox emphasize a network approach. With connectivity across the supply chain, global organizations will be able to make intelligent business decisions.

It’s the power of data. It’s not only the quality of data through connectivity, but the sense-making of that data into the overall macroeconomics of your supply chain,” says Cox. 

These open networks are the underpinning for global supply chains looking to transform their operations with predictive insights. The access to this data and business intelligence is elevating the supply chain within the organization.

When talking about these open networks, we quickly get into these areas that transportation and logistics haven’t typically touched — maybe it was a line item, but now you’re talking about strategic initiatives,” says McCandless.

While global shippers need open networks to remain agile and innovative in today’s world, it’s about the entire ecosystem.

In a true open network, both sides need to see value, and they need to find that mutual ground,” explains Cox. With SAP® Logistics Business Network, we started on the shipper side, but we quickly learned that we need to love the carriers just as much and we need to have more connectivity to the market power that has that carrier experience.”

What Visibility Means for Tomorrow’s Supply Chain

Real-time transportation visibility technology and access to these open networks has been growing over the last several years. It seems the industry has reached a tipping point, and the conversation is advancing as supply chains rethink their workflows.

Companies are no longer having conversations about synchronous versus asynchronous or legacy technology — like EDI or one-to-one connections — versus one-to-many connections and synchronous APIs. The flywheel is starting to spin fast, and the more companies that have visibility, it just becomes more powerful,” says McCandless. I think the companies that are making technology investments in the next two years will ultimately dominate in the next ten years. They’ll set that vision for what’s going to happen.”

Along with this adoption of visibility, Cox explains how this will enable supply chains to bring the entire picture together. Over the next two years, we’ll really be focused on connecting that end-to-end supply chain to the demand chain. And really focus on a multi-enterprise level of intelligence and resilience, transforming the role of logistics. Right now, we all need to rise up and recover from the current crisis, and it also represents a brand new business opportunity where a customer can redesign their ecosystem using the right technology and the right partners.”

How project44 and SAP are Working Toward this Vision

Driven by a shared vision of a fully connected and transparent logistics network, project44 and SAP joined forces in 2019 to enable B2B connectivity and collaboration. The latest enhancements to the project44 and SAP Logistics Business Network offering include the addition of global ocean visibility and expansion of B2B connectivity for truckload and less-than-truckload (LTL) freight contracting. 

To learn more, watch the full conversation between Jett and Paige.

###
Any statements in this release that are not historical facts are forward-looking statements as defined in the U.S. Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. All forward-looking statements are subject to various risks and uncertainties described in SAP’s filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC), including its most recent annual report on Form 20-F, that could cause actual results to differ materially from expectations. SAP cautions readers not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements which SAP has no obligation to update and which speak only as of their dates.
SAP and other SAP products and services mentioned herein as well as their respective logos are trademarks or registered trademarks of SAP SE in Germany and other countries. Please see https://www.sap.com/copyright for additional trademark information and notices.